proof lies with the claimant (ie the person bringing the case), but on some questions of law it can reverse so that the respondent (ie the employer) must satisfy the tribunal that it did not act unlaw- fully as is alleged. Employment tribunals then decide cases ‘on the balance of probabilities’, having weighed the evidence that is presented to them by each party or its representatives. Employment tribunals operate in a relatively in- formal way. Anyone can carry out the duty of repre- senting a party, the role being in no way restricted to professional lawyers. Sometimes claimants repre- sent themselves or are represented by a family mem- ber or a friend. Trade union officials increasingly carry out this kind of work too. Respondents are more likely to employ lawyers to represent them, but sometimes represent themselves too. As a result, the Employment Tribunal provides a relatively swift and low-cost forum in which a case can be decided. Appeals on questions of law can be taken to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and, subsequently, on to the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and, if appropriate, the European Court of Justice. But appealing a case is usually more costly.
Part 10 HRM Policy and Practice 538 Employment tribunals do not hear cases that relate to breaches of contract or alleged committing of torts such as negligence. So people wanting to pursue wrongful dismissal cases or personal injury claims must instead take their case to the County Court or High Court. In practice this requires them to hire lawyers and to be represented by a barrister. Costs are awarded against losing parties too, mak- ing this a riskier and potentially expensive route to take. In practice, awards against losing respondents are rarely very high. Ahead of a case, solicitors representing claimants often set out a schedule of losses, which is a good deal inflated and does not realistically represent the actual sum that would be won following a successful hearing in court. This is done in a bid to frighten unwary employers into settling the case for a higher sum than they need to in order to avoid the hassle of defending the case in court. The truth, according to the annual statistics published by the Employment Tribunal Service is that the sums awarded are typically much lower than claimants might in theory hope to gain (see Table 43.1). HRM and employment law The extent to which employment law influences the way that people are managed in organizations varies considerably. Larger corporations with high-profile reputations to defend have a tendency to settle claims ahead of any tribunal hearing in order to avoid negative publicity in the media. The estimated costs associated with defending a claim also typically dwarf the size of the award that the claimant can hope to win. So rather than tie up days of manage- ment time defending a case, claimants are simply paid off on condition that they sign a settlement agreement that precludes them from publicizing the case (CBI 2012: 29). The advantage of such a policy
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